Thursday, December 7

Marcus Wareing: ‘I nearly died while water-skiing’ | life and style

dad was always absent at home, he had no work-life balance. It gave me a work ethic like you wouldn’t believe as a student and worker. But I vowed that if I ever brought children into the world, I would be part of their lives. Dad retired, turned around, and found his kids from him were grown up. I never wanted that realization.

As a child I was shy, a loner who did his own thing. I went to catering college, worked hard and flourished. Through my teenage years I pushed everyone away. I focused only on my cooking. I was selfish and self-centred; pubs, clubs and socializing felt like a distraction.

London was lonely when I arrived at 17. I hated my commute to the Savoy: the people, the dirt, the hustle and bustle. Nobody was saying hello, the city was cold and scary, and the kitchen was the only place in which I felt safe. Dad was my rock on the phone, but he wouldn’t let me come home. He’d say, “What the fuck do you want to be back in Southport for?”

i nearly died while water-skiing in Upstate New York. I was working out there as a 20-year-old when I lost control while out on a lake and found myself heading straight for a huge rock at great speed. If I’d made contact, it was game over. Somehow I managed to turn and land in the water. To this day I think about that moment before I take risks. It taught me I’m not bigger than Mother Nature.

being a leader didn’t come naturally to me, and chefs aren’t sent to management training courses. I had my own Michelin-starred kitchen at 25, but it took a long time to learn how to run a team and kitchen.

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focusing on people’s mistakes, rather than what they’d done well, was an awful trait of mine for too long. I’d forget to say good job or thank you, but always pointed out people’s flaws and problems. Focusing on my weaknesses was how I learned and improved, but most people don’t enjoy decimation. One day, I came to my kitchen to find only three of my team had turned up. I’d nearly broken the thing I loved most, but it took years for me to change.

Nothing could prepare you for coming face to face with the Queen. Standing in front of her and wishing Her Majesty a happy birthday? It was totally overwhelming. Thankfully, she liked the egg tarts I’d cooked for her.

I’m terrified of looking back in regret. The idea that close to my end I’ll stop and think, “Shit, I wish I’d done more,” fills me with dread. I’ve worked hard and achieved a lot, but there’s so much more out there waiting.

every stage of my children’s lives is incredible; becoming a dad was the best thing to happen to me. When the front door shuts I get to be dad, and I love it. Yes, at home I cook, moan about kitchen hygiene and criticize the seasoning on my lunch, but to them I’m an idiot to be laughed at. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

The secret to impressing a date with your food? Honestly, don’t bother cooking. Go to a great deli, and buy loads of lovely bits, then sit and break bread together without any running to the kitchen.

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Marcus Wareing’s Tales from a Kitchen Garden is on BBC iPlayer

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